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Spark Sessions to highlight endeavors of Opus Prize nominees

Opus Prize logoAs Creighton University prepares to host the presentation of the Opus Prize on Nov. 17, six Spark Sessions designed to give the public a fuller picture of this year’s Opus Prize nominees have been scheduled.

Connecting this year’s Opus Prize theme, “Restoring Hope, Lighting the Way Home,” the Spark Sessions will highlight each of the three issues addressed by the prize finalists: homelessness, human trafficking and refugee displacement. All sessions are free and open to the public and will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Hixson-Lied Auditorium of the Mike and Josie Harper Center, 602 N. 20th St., on the Creighton campus.

This year’s Opus Prize nominees are Sari Bari, a social business helping women leave the sex trade in Kolkata, India; Jesuit Commons: Higher Education on the Margins, an educational program located in eight countries; and Cana Communities, a shelter ministering to and building relationships with the homeless, addicted and marginalized in Sydney, Australia.

The schedule of sessions and participants are as follows:

Sept. 8 — The delegation to Cana Communities, Ravi Nath, PhD, professor in the Heider College of Business, and students Adrienne Pyle and Kim Sorensen discuss their experience.

Sept. 15 — Continuing on the issue of homelessness, a local emergency shelter director, an economist and a behavioral health expert will join for a panel discussion on the opportunities and challenges to make a difference in the lives of those living on the margins.

Sept. 22 — The delegation to Sari Bari, Anne Ozar, PhD, professor of philosophy, and students Delayney Ellfeldt and Matthew Wenz, discuss their experience.

Sept. 29 — Members of the Nebraska Human Trafficking Coalition, along with a survivor of human trafficking who now helps victims find freedom will hold a panel discussion on the threats posed by human trafficking, even in Omaha.

Oct. 27 — The delegation to observe Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins in Malawi in southeast Africa, Sherri Brown, PhD, professor of theology, and alumni Steven Hogan and Selina Marshall, discuss their experience.

Nov. 3 — The issue of displacement will conclude the Spark Sessions as a former refugee now living in Omaha shares a story of hardship and learning to mold a new home. A member of the Refugee Empowerment Network, along with other members of the community helping refugees in the Omaha area will also join the conversation.

The Opus Prize is an annual program in which the unsung heroes of any faith tradition, anywhere in the world, are recognized for working to solve the day’s most pressing social problems. The winner of the prize receives $1 million and the two other finalists for the prize each earn $100,000 awards, making the Opus prize one of the largest faith-based humanitarian awards for social innovation.

Creighton University is a Jesuit, Catholic university bridging health, law, business and the arts and sciences for a more just world.